By the time his mind cleared, Elezar was beside him. He had removed his helmet, and was drying his face with a piece of cloth.
“Be still, young prince,” Elezar told him. “The Night Piercer’s poison is taking effect. It must have gotten more into your bloodstream than I had first thought.”
“It’s not the owl,” Zarrek insisted through ragged breaths. “That was a lot of magic is all.”
“That much is true,” Elezar told him. “You took off the wraith’s arms with it.”
“What–”Zarrek gasped, looking up suddenly, searching the shadows. “I thought surely that I had destroyed it!”
Elezar shook his head gravely. “I told you, Métius sent one of his more powerful wraiths to serve him in getting to you to swear fealty to him.” He peered around the room listening to the hissing of the wraith as it flew about. “It is furious now,” he added.
“So am I,” the prince groaned.
He shifted, first getting to his knees, then steadying himself as his mind swirled, and then forcing himself back up to his feet. Zarrek felt the words rushing out of his throat, calling to the wraith, challenging it to find out whether or not he could muster another round of the magic that had taken its arm. What he found strange was that to him, his own words sounded distant and muffled. The wraith heard him well enough, though, for is descended from the shadows, screeching in its fury, flying straight towards him.
Elezar’s warnings, too, sounded muffled and far away. Was he telling Zarrek to move, or to ready his blade? He could not hear him clearly, though it sounded as though it was terribly important. The wraith was upon him before he had the chance to ask Elezar to repeat himself. Its icy chill seeped into his body as it passed over him, through him, screeching the entire time. He felt the cold down to his bones, and then he felt the crypt’s air around him as the layer of fire around his body dissipated.
He could not have explained when– or even if– he realized that he was on his knees once again. Then he had not even the strength to kneel, and his dizzied mind somehow registered that the floor was rushing up to meet his face. It was pain all over again when the thud came. Pain as though Starshine had never sung to him, pain as though the had never dressed his wounds, sheer agony as though they had never lain together as the rain poured down outside the window of his family’s summer home. It was the trauma of that terrible night when he had been twelve years old, distrusted, and criticized despite all of his accomplishments. His head hurt, his scars hurt, and his back hurt. Every piercing, every ring, burned and pulled.
“Denying the poison doesn’t make it go away,” Elezar was telling him now, though the older man was no so sure that the prince understood him.
Zarrek only groaned in response.
“Now I will have to be the one to defeat the wraith,” he grumbled. “How am I to protect you while I fight it, though?”
Elezar was still trying to work out the logistics in his mind when her heard the hiss and whoosh the wraith’s approach. He looked up at it, scowled, and raised his sword arm. As it sped towards him, words fell from his tongue, old, Draconic, and dark. Had Zarrek’s eyes served him just then, he would have seen a shield form on the older mans arm. It absorbed the light even more than black would have, but despite the shadows the it was made of, it served its purpose of repelling the wraith, forcing it to draw back.
The wraith shrieked in anger, and then rose up into the shadows. Few a few minutes, there was relative quiet. He looked over the prince’s body his neck was bleeding again, and Elezar presumed that beneath his armor, his clothes were heavy with blood. With his body so dependent upon his fire Zeah, another pass from the wraith would bring him the the brink.
He was running through his dark magic abilities in his mind when he heard a shuffling in the darkness beyond the cages. It was as though very large feet were kicking bones out of their way, and crushing some of the ones that did not move. His k’haarana was whimpering, and he looked up to see what had happened.
“I greet you again, my knight,” the voice said, deep and rumbling.
“My master…” Elezar replied as he carefully laid the prince down and rose, only to kneel once again.
“Do you intend to serve me?” Métius as him, looking between him and Sallah’s cage. “Will your actions show the same reverence that your posturing does?”
“I am yours to command,” Elezar replied. He kept his head down, and tried to keep his breathing steady. He hoped that the Dark One would not be able to hear the way his heart pounded beneath his breastplate. Even while he swore to his dark master, he knew that he might no longer be able to protect Zarrek, that lives hung terribly by the threads of how he acted.
“I do not intent for you to fight my wraith,” Métius told him. He eyed Sallah for a moment before walking up to the man. Chains clinked and rattled as he dragged them across the floor of the chamber, and the sound of metal on stone echoed though Elezar’s mind.